A brief History of Inns, Public Houses and breweries in Devizes
I am grateful to the Devizes U3a local history group for much of the research on this page. In addition I have been given a copy of a very complete, but unpublished manuscript written by the late Les Reeves "Devizes Inns - from tippling Houses to Hotels". I have tried to integrate the two sources. There also a good article on the Inns of Devizes in the Victoria County History of Wiltshire. I have also included a list of current pubs in Devizes with a link to some information
Right The Black Swan in the Market Place has served since 1766.
To save space on this page I have put photos of the many current pubs into a Pubs photogallery
1500 The first named Inn was Dokemannys on the Green, it does not appear again in history. This may be the Bell on the Green, but we do not know.
1512 The Elm Tree on Long Street was originally called the Salutation ; Reeves says that this was short for the Angel of the Annunciation. The hostelry is possibly as old as the old houses in St. John's Alley. It acquired its present name in about 1766. A tree which stood in front of it was removed in 1826. The pub is still in operation.
1538 to 1544 The Crown (Hotel) operated in St. John’s Street until its closure in 1966. In the 17th century it was a coaching Inn and used by lodgers of good social standing, which suggests that it was one of the best inns in town. Additionally the hotel was a starting place for carriers. It is now called the Crown centre and is much in use as a community centre and meeting place.The pub is still in operation.
1546 The Hart was in St. John's Street and it also extended into the then Wine Street Alley, now the St. John's Alley. In 1610 Lord Chief Justice Baron charged Mr Strangunde for the fine of the house called the Hart. In 1616 there was bill for digging posts at the Hart stabe fo 2 pennies. In 1741 it was known as the Boot and listed as ale house with appurtenances in the New Port (market) and the Tanners market. In 1878 William Dowling gave up the the lease and brewers John and James Tylee let the inn to a new landlord who changed the name to the Wheatsheaf.
1559 The Bear is now and has for a long time been the town’s chief inn. It dominates the market Place. It was possibly named after the Earl of Warwick, a 13th century governor of the Castle whose emblem was a bear and ragged staff. It was probably in existence before 1559. The pub is still in operation.There is a separate web page on the Bear Hotel.
In 1559 Nicholas Ponting was given a license to sell ale out of doors, but specifically not in doors.
1563 The Swan is first mentioned. In 1580 it stood in New Port. In 1668 there was a Black Swan approachable from Short Street near the butchers Shambles. It was still an inn in 1673 but closed soon after.
In 1574 E Moller was given a licece to brew beer by the Devizes Borough Council
1596 The Angel this public house was leased to Richard Barnes by the Town Council for a fee of £2 and an annual rent of 27 shillings for 21 years in 1596. It had a back side and garden grounds and other houses and cellars. It was situated in the Newport.possibly behind Handel House and may later have been renamed the White Lion.
1600 9 Innkeepers were licensed in the town.
1620 There were 15 inn holders or Inn keepers, 13 alehouse keepers and a taverner in Devizes.
1623 The Town Council was directed by the Privy Council in London to reduce the number of Ale Houses to reduce the use of barley and corn in times of scarcity.The Council cut the number of public houses to 12 from that noted above in 1620.
1630 Mayor regulates sale price of beer. At the quarter assizes in November 1630 the Mayor instructed brewers as to the price to sell beer and ales "The common brewers shall brew their beer or ale and sell the same after the rate of 9 shillings (45 p!) for the hogshead, being 54 gallons for the best and 4 shillings and 6 pence (22.5 p) for the small beer and so proportionally for any greater or smaller vessel after the same rate".
1630 A White Swan was in the Market Place from at least 1630. The Town records say that those who sell carrots, turnips, cabbages other garden stuff shall stand on market and fair days from the White Swan door and so southwards. It was apparently at what is now 39, Market Place. It was owned by John, Thomas and Richard Pierce during the16th and 17th centuries. Metheglyn was manufactured in the town from fermented honey (similar to mead) and was produced by the Pierce family who were prominent Royalists during the Civil War. It existed in about 1676 and by 1758 it was used as a dining place for militia officers. It was still an Inn in 1775 but was a private house by1791. It was an Inn again by 1808-1864 when it became the Wiltshire and Dorset Bank.
1630-40s The Lamb was on St. John's Street in a small alley. It has been called the Scribbling Horse and possibly the Borough Arms. During the Civil War in 1646 Roundhead soldiers were billeted at the Lamb - as 10 shillings was paid for them. as recorded in the Chamberlain's report. In July 1756 Lieutenant James Wolfe stayed in the back part of the Scribbling Horse inn while on a recruiting drive before leaving to fight the French in Canada. Scribbling Horse (herse actually) is from the frame on which cloth was stretched for scribbling or cleaning. There was brewhouse situated nearby at one time. The landlord in 1842 was William Winkworth. The pub is still in operation.
1646-1647 The Beadle and Ale taster for Devizes Borough was given th euse of a house in the market place; it was ordered that " a certain house called the measuring house, lying in the Market Place shall be held and occupied by the Borough Beadle and Ale taster at a yearly rent of £4".
1657 The Black Horse in Long Street was operating until1 1848 when its name changed to Wiltshire House and it disappeared the following year. In the late 18th century it was sometimes the meeting place of the licensing justices. It had its own brewery and stabling for
1659 there were 30 licensed Ale Houses in Devizes
1663 The Bull, may be Bulls Head, in Little Brittox from 1740 –1821. The Inn sign was said to have been painted by a very young Sir Thomas Lawrence. It was probably on the site now occupied by the greengrocers shop and was frequented by shearmen and cloth workers.
1673 The White Bear in Monday Market Street has existed since 1673 although the building dates from the early 17thcentury. It may have been called the Talbot in in1638. The 3 gables are Tudor and there are some 300 year old paintings on a beam in the bar. It is the property of St. Mary’s Church and was originally called The Talbot. It enjoyed a good position in the old market place withthe market cross and a teasel post (where teasels were sold to clothmakers for raising the nap on cloth) in front. The market cross was removed from outside in about 1615 and re-erected in present Market Place. It had an adjoining malt house and was much used by cattle drovers.In 1818 Stephen Watson was the proprietor and in 1842 it was James Macklin. In 1896 to carriers left the White Bear; Marstone on fpr Chirton and Mannigfords on Thursdays and Saturdays. The pub is still in operation. See Inns photogallery
1674 The George this is mentioned in the Borough records as supplying beer worth 2 shillings and six pence (12.5p) for the Guild Hall . We do not et know where this was.
1684 and possibly earlier (1514?) - the Bell on the Green, Estcourt Street
A will of the Rev. Samuel Butt Rector of Coulston left the Belle Inn South Broom to his sister Mary . They were members of the Drew family of Southbroom House. However there was a house in the area in 1514 called the Bell and there was a Bell on the Bedborough Road (old name for Estcourt Streeet) in 1632. Robert Coles was the landlord in 1842. In 1861 the Inn was owned by Mr Decimus Wild and his wife Mrs Eliza Wild.They also owned the large Wild Brewery next door on Escourt Street.and several other inns in Devizes - which their Brewery supplied. Mrs Wild was a founder of the national Licensed Victuallers' Association. Mrs Wild died in 1895 and her son George took over the pub and brewery. He had ill health and in 1903 he sold the pub and brewery to Wadworths brewery on Nothgate Street. It had been the last independent brewery in Devizes. Later the brewery was converted to a Fire station . In 1990 it was demolished to build first of all Safeway and then Morrisons' supermarket The pub is still in operation.See Inns photogallery
1685 The Pelican It is recorded in James Waylen's 2 books on the History of Devizes that the King James II militia were stationed in Devizes for 2 weeks in 1685. THis was during the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth. Their HQ was the Pelican and the "King dined in public each day". This is doubtful, but the reference to the Pelican is probably correct. The Victoria County History of Wiltshire says that it was in St. John's Street others that it was on Estcourt Street near St. James Church. It was apparently still there in 1737. The present Pelican has been in Market Place since at least 1818 -see below.
1686 The Inns of the town contained 97 beds which was many fewer than Salisbury, Marlborough, Chippenham, Warminster or Bradford on Avon. But there was stabling for 525 horses which was more that in any other Wiltshire town except Salisbury.
1732 Black Swan 22,The High Street was previously a private house. In 1732 it became the Black Swan and remained so until 1732. Its yard may have been across the street hence “Old Swan Yard.”- right By 1750 the building was once again a private house
1766 Black Swan Market Place there was once again a Black Swan in Devizes and situated where it is now in the Market Place. The house is dated 1737. This was partly burnt down in 1798 and has definitely stood in the Market Place since 1778. Records also show that there was a Black Swan next to the Shambles run in early 17thcentury by James Edney. When he died in 1638 he left 20 hogsheads of metheglyn( a type of mead), 15 hundred weight of honey and £6 worth of wax in the Metheglin (honey drink) House.
1739 Leg of Mutton in Sidmouth Street (it may have been at 11, 12 and 13 Maryport Street) and was named as such until 1830. It seems likely that it became Oddfellows or Oddfellows Arms in about 1844. That Inn became the Unicorn in 1866 and was closed by 1970. Another Unicorn existed somewhere in the town in 1687.
1766 The King’s Arms on Northgate Street became the Northgate House in 1973. The Kings Arms was first mentioned in 1766. It soon became a coaching house with 40 beds, a garden and a bowling green and was the scene of aristocratic balls.Halcombe was the landlord in early 1770’s before he left to become the landlord of the Bear. It closed in 1823.
1766 The Hare and Hounds, Hare and Hare Street. In 1776 the landlord was Will Jourden. It was the place where the hunting hounds met to chase and hunt down hares. In 1818 the landlord was John Jordan - presumably a son of Will. In 1842 the landlord was Thomas Kite. The Inn had an associated brewery from 1839 until 1911 when it was take over by Wadworths.The pub is still in operation.
1766 The Artichoke (sometimes spelt Hartichoke) on the Bath Road. In 1776 the landlord was a Mr Batt the brother of the landlord of the Angell on Sheep Street. There is a faded sign on the side of the Inn which shows that at one time it brewed its own beer. The landlord in 1852 was John Goodman and in 1900 a Mr Sheppard.The pub is still in operation and is Wadworth's Pub..
1767 The Castle in New Park Street was a private house built in about 1700 and owned by William Grubbe. It was rebuilt by Charles Rose and John Tylee who were Brewers. They renamed it the Castle in about 1768. One of the first landlords was Thomas Oak. In 1818 the landlord was Joseph Low. By1836 it was a Posting and Coach House. In 1839 an anti-corn law meeting was held in the Castle with a Mr C. Phipps in the Chair. In 1847 a public meeting was held there to promote the growing of flax by a Mr Brown. In the same year a Farmers and Tradesmen Political Club was formed at the Castle by Messrs Norris, Grant, Ferris and Hayward (Conservative group). It was a meeting place of the Improvement Commissioners and of local Insurance Societies. In 1870 the owner was a Henry Blencove and the Castle had its own brewery still. It was a commercial Inn and a postinghouse with loose boxes for horses, a lockup coach house with corn rooms. In 1896 carriers left the Castle; Giddings for Urchfont and Nash for Beckhampton, Avebury and Swindon. In 1900 a Mr Sloper was the landlord. The pub is still in operation.
1767 Currier Arms was part of Bridewell Street Brewery and the Chartists headquarters in 1839. Between 1841 and 45 it became the Duke of Wellington until it closed in 1865.
1769 Queen’s Head has stood at the foot of Dunkirk Hill on the road to Rowde since at least this date.
In 1818 there were 30 licensed premises within the borough.
1818 The Pelican, 9 Market Place.
The building is grade 2 listed and dates from the late 18th century. The first recorded landlord was William Perry in 1818 and in 1842 William Joyce held the licence. In 1875 the new Wadworth's Brewery, that was then operating out of the old Northgate Brewery (formerly Waylen wool factory and now behind the current Gaiger's), bought the Pelican and supplied it with their beer.
In 1896 the new landlord Henry Morris advertised the Inn "as an old established free house. He begs to inform the public that he has taken over the inn which was carried on by the late Mr H Morris. The Inn will be conducted under entirely new arrangements and only the best ales and spirits will be supplied". He advertised "Best home brewed beer, good accomodation for commercial travellers, good stabling, convenient ladies waiting room upstairs overlooking the Market Place." In 1896 Carrier Lawes left the Pelican for Wilton and Salisbury on Thursdays and Saturdays, Wilkins left for Chippenham, James for Calne, Bullock for Heddington and Sandy Lane - all on Thursdays. Lawes also left for Winterbourne on Mondays. The Pelican is still a Wadworth inn and has been in the Goodman family since 1954.
1800s The British Lion, Estcourt Street. It was called this by 1865. The building is 18th century and grade 2 listed. It was in earlier time called the Ship. It would be good to get more information on this old pub. The postcard is supplied courtesy of Chris West and is ca 1910. The British Lion looks superb with its natural stone showing.
1840 The White Lion beside Wadsworth’s Brewery; it is now a training pub; it was formerly called the Barge.
1844 There were 28 pubs in Devizes
1849 The Three Crowns in Maryport Street has been an Inn since this date although the building is much older – early 16thcentury. They originally brewed their own beer in the northern part of the House, now a cafe, and they specialized too in old French Brandy. The Phipps family owned the Pub from 1862 until it was it was put up for sale in 1933 by J.E.Phipp. It was said to be the only free house in town. The pub is still in operation.
1875 Wadworh's brewery was established when the old Northgate Brewery was purchased by Henry Alfred Wadworth. At the age of 22 he already had six years brewing experience both as a pupil at a brewery in London and also as manager of a small brewery at number 8 Long Street in Devizes. The NorthgateBrewery, with it's impressive Victorian facade, was designed and built by Henry Wadworth in 1885.Wadworth & Company have a widespread and well founded reputation for brewing exceptional beers.It has established a large chain of Inns throughout Wiltshire and Devizes. The Shire Horses were re-introduced in 1974 and the two working horse-drawn dray are a popular sight in Devizes every weekday morning. The stables are open to the public on Monday to Thursday.
1868 The Great Western, Station Road. This may also have been known as the Railway Inn earlier because of its postion near the station. It was positioned in what is now Straker's car park. Harry Barnard was the proprietor in 1889 - advertising that "Traps let out for hire at reasonable charges. Every accomodation for railway travellers, well aired beds. Best and prompt attention given to balls, fetes, picnics diners etc. In 1900 Arthur Challis was the licensee.Chris Henley has kindly supplied the photo. A larger version is in the photogallery section. The Great Western was demolished in 1982 a day after this photo was taken!
1903 There were 30 pubs in Devizes.
1970 There were 26 pubs in Devizes.